Last night, we had our weekly community group. Our usual practice is to chew over the sermon we heard on Sunday. We re-read the passage, recapped the key headlines and then pressed into more detail on the applications.
One of the things we were considering is what belief in God’s promise ought to look like in our daily lives. If we really believe God is faithful, and always does what he says, how does that actually affect my life tomorrow? What difference does real belief in God’s promises make to me?
Somebody said that they never had to miss a meal, so don’t really know what it means to have to trust God in that sense. I recounted how I, at times in my childhood, was not so lucky to always know where the next meal was going to come from. We had periods growing up where we were excruciatingly poor. But I still never missed a meal because my parents went without food so we could eat instead. I just didn’t worry about where the next meal was coming from because my mum always made sure we could eat, even if that meant she didn’t. As a child, I had no idea. I remember going to a place and being made up at getting a Liverpool football top. I had no idea we were the poor family being given the clothes by the mission! But I had no worries because my parents always made sure we had what we needed. I never doubted those needs would be met. That is something of what it means, I think, to trust God. If we really believe in his promises, we would not be riddled with anxiety. We would simply trust that he has our needs met. We might experience plenty or want, but we would have no doubt that all we need will be provided.
Coupled to that, we would pray. Paul’s solution, at the end of Philippians, to the issue of anxiety and worry is prayer. Prayer is our means of casting our cares upon our sovereign, providing God. Someone pointed us to 1 Peter 5:6-7, noting that our worries are symptomatic of arrogance. If we were humble, we would realise we need God’s help and we would pray, casting our cares upon him. But when we are wracked with worry, we are disbelieving of God’s promises. We are saying we can do these things, despite how capable we may be. We are saying we don’t need the Lord. We are being arrogant whilst, at the same time, worrying ourselves to death! If we truly trusted in the Lord’s promises, we would take our anxieties to him.
If we truly trusted in God’s promises, it would affect our generosity. If we really believe that we have a home in Heaven through Christ, we do not need to grasp onto all this life has to offer. When Paul says, if Jesus has not been raised, we are of all people most to be pitied, he says that because we are inhibiting ourselves in this life for a complete mirage. Those who believe there is nothing after this life make a perfectly rational decision when they grasp onto all they can get and squeeze everything out of this world that they can. Those who truly believe in God and his promises are being similarly rational when they give away all that they can, knowing there is another world in which our faith will be rewarded far more than we can give now. Jesus is clear that we should store up treasure in Heaven, not here on earth. That is actually what the Bible considers good stewardship; not hoarding what we have, but giving it freely and generously because there is no better investment that we can make. When we are a bit tight fisted, lacking in generosity, it is ultimately because we don’t believe God’s promises of such Heavenly rewards.
If we really believe God’s promises, our everyday decisions are affected. Why would anybody travel halfway round the world to come and live in Oldham? I can assure you it is not for the tropical climate! Why would we continue to press on in a scruffy bit of town full of people who are nothing like us? Surely it is only because God has promised that he has a people for himself here. It is because he has promised us all sorts of things when we seek his kingdom first, ahead of our own comfort or anything else we feel we may need. If we really believe the promises of God, our every day decisions on how to spend our time, who to speak with, how to speak with them all sorts of things are necessarily affected. We will make decisions in light of the promises of God. And if we truly believe them, we will do what lines up with whatever it is God has promised to those who do those things. In other words, it affects near enough everything.